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[ ♪ opening music ] this week we've made our way across the chalk downs of wiltshire to the delightful market town of marlborough. as with many english towns, it's difficult to separate the history from the myth, especially when the history -- or is it the myth -- is actually part of the town's identity. marlborough's motto is "ubi nunc sapientis ossa merlini,"
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"where now are the bones of merlin." well, local legend has it that merlin, who was the wise old man of king arthur's court, lies buried in this mound and the mound was the origin of marlborough. the great height of the mound gave it a strategic importance, and when the normans arrived here in the 11th century, they chose it as a site for a castle, able to command the countryside for miles around and, in particular, the great west road... even then, the main route from london to bath, a great trading road since roman times, which helps to explain why marlborough has so many public houses. in the 19th century this was the castle inn, a popular overnight stop on the old coaching route between london and bath. one night in 1841, over dinner, a group of people met and one of them said, "mm, what a place for a school." unlike most conversations in pubs, someone actually took him seriously. within a couple of years, 200 boys moved in to begin their lessons.
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marlborough college is now one of the leading independent schools in the country. it has, of course, changed with the times and about a third of the pupils are girls. like most english public schools, marlborough has a long list of distinguished old boys, two of particular interest to us. the first is william morris, the great victorian artist and designer. forty years after he left and had become established, he was commissioned by the college to create this wonderful stained glass window for the chapel. it's still known to this day as the william morris window, though the irony is he actually got burne-jones to design it for him. the other famous old boy who once knelt at these pews was john betjeman. [ words of john betjeman] luxuriating backwards in the bath, i swish the warmer water 'round my legs towards my shoulders and the waves of heat bring those five years of marlborough
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through to me in comfortable retrospect. this is the perfect setting for today's antiques roadshow, drawing a large number of people from several towns and villages in wiltshire. so let's now join them with our experts. "no idea what this is or where it came from." now, who wrote that? i think it was probably written by my grandfather because he was a professor of biology at cambridge university, and he was, i think, the original owner of it. i'm not entirely sure whether he actually used it at all, but it was from him that it came. there's a signature here, which is j. clark fecit edinburgh. now, you've done enough latin to know that "fecit" means "made." so john clark made this, and he's an edinburgh maker. he started off life as a gold and a silversmith. is it solid silver?
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it's actually a silver microscope. what you have at the bottom here is the mirror to give you the necessary light. at the back, you've got this wonderful knurled knob, which adjusts the thread for focusing. but if you look very closely, at the top here, can you see in this little window, it says "1"? is that the aperture? exactly. if we flick it to 2 -- there are different strengths of lens all 'round this little wheel. on the back here, to make the focusing easier, you can see it says "1, 2, 3, 4, 5," down there. so you would actually move this pointer with the knurled screw down to the number which corresponded to the number of the lens. all you had to do was a bit of fine tuning, and you'd be fine. john clark, as i said, started out as a goldsmith and a silversmith in edinburgh.
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he first sold this particular microscope, the earlier version of this, by subscription. this proved to be so successful that he then gave up his day job and became a microscope maker. this particular one is probably dating from between 1774 and 1776. great rarity. there are examples in the museum in scotland, but they are highly desirable to collectors. we're talking about between £10,000 and 15,000. wow! i'd no idea it was worth that much. i wonder who used to sit in them when they were first made. so do i. they are some of the most eccentric chairs i've ever seen. do you know whether they've come out of a house in england or ireland? well, i have no knowledge, but i should guess ireland because my grandfather was irish
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and proud of it too, he always used to say. surprisingly enough, they are a celebration of love, because the scallop shell is the badge of venus, the goddess of love. i imagine that in spite of their rather small scale, they were originally intended to stand in some extraordinary architectural grotto somewhere. to be honest, the only time i've ever really seen this really wonderful eccentric carving and this very distinctive bold colour scheme of using the ebonising and the parcel gilding is actually on irish mirrors of the 1820s and 1830s. that's very interesting. what is interesting is their form is purely venetian. there was a large group of italian craftsmen and cabinet makers who settled in dublin in the early 19th century, like the delvecchios, for instance,
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who certainly introduced italian traditions to irish furniture. i've been riveted about what the upholstery originally was. do you have any recollection before they were redone? no, we really didn't see it. we did, dear, because they were so tatty. the covering, when we had them 18 years ago, was a pink, silky material. if you remember, when they were redone, they said they discovered 15 layers of material under them. to be honest, from my point of view, the sad thing is that the regilt and redecorated nature actually -- if they had their original gilding and ebonising, they would be terribly interesting. the awful thing is i'm terrible; i love things when they're untouched and looking awful, because then you see what they're about. yes, that is your interest,
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but you can imagine we didn't want two really tatty chairs in our house. i'd probably do the same. what's interesting is this bluey-green you've chosen is the colour that is venus's colour as well, so it's terribly suitable. so that was very well done. i think they are irish and they date from around 1830. they are definitely unlike anything i've ever seen before. to be honest, i think the restoration and the redecoration and regilding has not helped them. i think they should certainly be worth sort of £3,000 to 5,000, but might well fly. you never know. that's interesting to know. you wouldn't want to part with them, would you, dear? no, i don't know. i would quite like to think that they were being used in some way. used and loved. that would be nice. absolutely, back to venus. thank you very much, indeed.
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i don't know if you've ever noticed, but it is conveniently signed on the back here, "chiparus." sometimes you do have the initials preceding this, "d.h. chiparus." it's called the danseuse de kapurthala, and it's such a pleasure to see a genuine one. how did you come by it? i believe my aunt bought it, and passed it on to my mother. when my mother died, it was passed on to me. the figure is probably based on figures that might have been seen in the ballet russe that diaghilev brought to paris in the '20s. i think the exotic dancers influenced lots of artists at the time. dimitri chiparus was a romanian that was sort of drawn to paris by the bright lights of the artistic community that was there. he's very well known for these bronze and ivory figures. this is carved ivory, beautifully carved. the skull cap is all ivory as well, just one piece of ivory,
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but it's coloured to resemble the metal of the costume. it's a very nice piece. an auction price for this would be certainly in the region of £10,000 to 15,000. good gracious. because they are very, very popular. what's in here? it's a whistle collection. that's quite nice, the shape of a dog's head. that is lovely. is it carved ebony? i think it could be. do they all work? yes. you don't mind me having a go? not at all. that's working well. that's quite sweet. there's another one. isn't that lovely? that's nickel plated silver, almost certainly. have you got any silent ones for dogs? yes, i have, further down. this is chinese, famille rose. the shape is typically buddhistic, and the whole thing is about buddhism. these are lotus petals, stylised lotus petals. when i was a little boy of 4, i thought they were fingers. there is the finger citron,
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which is the buddhist fingers citron but, in fact, it's not. these emblems are all buddhistic emblems, the eight bogu or precious objects. it's got a six-character seal mark of the emperor chia ch'ing. 1796-1820. really? it's a very nice vase. it's worth £2,000 to 3,000. well, i've had it all my life; i can remember it when i was 4. what about this? this is a bit of scrimshaw. i know it's a whale tooth. you know as much about it as i do. the person for this is hilary kay. what are these? well, that's a cuckoo whistle. you put your finger over there and it does the cuckoo noise. [ cuckoo whistle ] what else have you got? that one does a bird warble. [ warble whistle ]
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well, this is a whale's tooth, and it came to me from my great-great-grandfather. he was captain henry wilson of the royal navy. he retired at the end of the napoleonic wars and was given a grant of land in canada, to which he went, and this was one of his effects which commemorates the defeat of the british navy on the great lakes by commodore perry. this is the most remarkable work. it really is incredible. you can see the gun smoke, the cannon fire. here we have the -- more battles. this is, i suppose, either the defeated -- british running away. a terrible thing to admit, but it all looks as if the battle is rather over. but look at the other little details here. i've always liked that little house and the estate. isn't that just charming! scrimshaw were basically made
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-- so the story goes -- by idle sailors who really were becalmed. but i think that this work is really too good. it's valuable. i would have said the value would be something between perhaps £4,000 and 6,000. really? it's a very important object. you know what that is, don't you? no. they were plugged into the speaking tubes in a big house. oh, right, the phone. so when somebody wanted to attract your attention upstairs, they would blow in the bottom end, and it would sound the whistle upstairs. they weren't for blowing into directly. a lot of people think they're actually whistles, but it was for attracting attention through a house. i call that one the "iron man" or "outward bound." what does that do? it's like a train whistle. i think that's it. we can't go any further; you've got too much. you're obsessive, aren't you? yes.
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they are a fantastic group. it belonged to my husband's great-aunt, and she travelled a lot. we think it might be indian but we're not at all sure. i can see exactly why you'd be thinking in terms of indian. you do get very much this sort of decoration appearing and, again, filigree work is a feature to be found there. what you've actually got is a travelling set. so the spoon, fork, and the knife. date wise... we're looking at about 1670. the spoon, with the sections cut at the top, that's known as the triffid form of spoon. now, that, as a design, started in about 1660 and died out in about 1700. nice little rattail on and maker's mark only, stamped twice.
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n.c. we know was working in the 1670s in london. we've not only got marks relating to a goldsmith, but the knife -- you notice just there, that little dagger; that's the mark for the cutlers company. next to it, the symbol which would actually identify the cutler who produced this. actually, i think the fork is an absolute joy, just with the two prongs there. at this stage, actually, charles ii period, you get either two or three prongs. lovely to have it still in its case, because so often they've been separated. so a very rare object. the last one, i seem to remember at auction, sold for £2,500. grandfather escott was a good amateur jockey. he was leading on this horse, and he was a long way in front coming to the second last
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when the horse slipped and fell and he fell off. he then rushed 'round, caught the horse, remounted, jumped the last, and still won. i don't suppose that happens too often. not very often in this day and age. this horse in front of you, which is called st. simon, was presented to my father by tattersall, who was one of the founders of tattersall's blood stock, to commemorate a good winning ride my father had given him. very generous in those days. certainly was. the bronze is by a man called sir edgar boehm, or boehm -- i'm not sure how he would have pronounced it -- who was an austrian artist who came to work in england and was knighted for his efforts. bronzes of horses are quite unusual by him. this is an absolutely magnificent piece. it seems to have suffered a little bit. has it had a hard life? during the war he lived in the cellar when we lived in epsom in a tea chest, and they didn't see the light of day.
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i have to say that is a bit of a shame; nevertheless, from your perspective, they're interesting racing bits and pieces. from mine, they're interesting works of art. here we have a painting by joshua dighton. dighton was the last of the family who had worked through the 19th century painting initially caricatures of regency bucks and all this sort of thing. through the 19th century, robert and richard dighton did these caricatures, sometimes jockeys and so on, and joshua dighton particularly specialised in doing that. at auction, a picture like this, taking the story out of it, just a picture of a jockey on a horse, is worth about £2,000, 2,500. the bronze is a fantastic thing. i'm a little bit concerned about the colour of it; it's not absolutely perfect. nevertheless, a rare thing by an artist like this, and at auction would probably make about £6,000 to 8,000.
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are they hanging up at home? they were in an old trunk, and we didn't know they were there. my wife just found them when she was rearranging a bedroom, which is going to be decorated soon. is it a house you've lived in for ages? yes, it's been in the family for a long time, since about 1230. good grief! since 1230. i'm not insinuating these go back to when the house was built, but somebody at some stage has had a connection with spain. the one thing on this fabric which really struck a chord was this design 'round the outside. we've got these little sort of christmas trees, shaped, little pointed numbers all the way 'round the borders, and they are absolutely typical to the south of spain. for some reason, this design was inherited from the moors when they overran the spanish. it's the one absolute hallmark that these beautiful pieces were originally spanish.
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as well as that, we've got this moorish looking archway on the panels on the front of it. those very much remind you of those islamic doors. if you go to spain, you can still see those wonderful, rounded arch doorways at the alhambra in granada. of course, the great thing is that spain was the centre of the silkworm industry in europe during the 18th century. there are several books published showing the silk farms where the mulberry trees used to grow. i presume that these silk farms were providing all the rich hangings for the court. we're looking at a piece of mid- to late-18th-century handiwork. there is a lot of interest in auctions at the moment in old textiles. i would think each of these is going to be worth over £1,000. that's an approximation but i would dearly love to find out where they came from and how long they've been in the family. will you go back and do a bit of ferreting? we will, yes, definitely. my father was governor of hong kong for three years,
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from '35 to '37. when he left, a prominent hong kong/chinese gave these as a parting present. he was the chris patten of his day, was he? that's it. these pierced ivory balls survive in vast numbers. when they get up to this sort of size, they are a real tour de force. i've counted over 18 inside there. i was going to say have you ever counted them. you've beaten my record. about 20 years ago i got the largest one i'd ever known, and it had 17 in. you've got 18. well done. do you know how these are made? no, we want to know. how do they do it? what you do, you start off by carving your outer ball. you then drill down conical holes,
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right down to the centre. once you've got into the middle, you take a tool, which is on a handle like that with a blade at right angles, and put it down to the bottom and you twist it and twist it and twist it until you've freed a circle. you then do the next one and free another circle. all the circles meet up and you free a ball in the middle. you then come out an eighth of an inch or a quarter of an inch, and you do the same thing again until you've freed another ball. then, of course, you can pierce it. the amount of time and effort needed to do this -- this is the true definition of craftsmanship, unbelievably skilled work, a year's work to produce that, at least, and would have cost a lot of money in real terms. today it's actually worth rather less,
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and i think that would probably sell for around £1,000 to 1,500. very nice. the basis of the whole collection was originally left to my great-great-grandfather i would think in the early 19th century. the collection has since been added to by all the subsequent generations. these are chinese exports, as you are aware. they are among the most sought after of all chinese export wares of the non-armorial group. these come under the general title "tobacco leaf pattern." in fact, here we've got some interesting examples. we've got a seed pod here; you can have various kinds of vegetation. then this has got no birds, but this one down here, the plate, has exotic birds here. it's famille rose. it's made during the reign of the emperor ch'ien lung. he reigned from 1736 to 1795.
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he abdicated before his 60-year cycle was up, but this is pretty lush; you can see how spectacular this is. therefore, it's highly sought after in america. how many pieces did you say you have? we've got a total of about 80. that varies from a few larger tureens than that one; some very large meat plates, coming down in size to that one; two very nice vases, which stand about that high, and one of which we've made into a table lamp. no hole in the base? no, no, no, definitely not. the east india company would have selected pieces to go on board ship, and then they'd sell them on the quays in england, or whatever. then these probably all came off together and then were dispersed within a matter of months or years and then have been accumulated by your family. this group is terribly expensive
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depending on the pattern. from what you say, you're into six figures now; you're over £100,000. is that right? yeah. they're insured for about £15,000. you'd better hike that up, but that's the only misfortune about this. it's my wife's great-grandfather's. it was presented to him by his regiment and is inscribed inside. yes, the colonel oakes. it still has snuff in it. yes, i have to be a wee bit careful there. i can just about empty out the snuff -- get the box. do you know what it's made of? i presume it's gold. you're quite right; it's 18 carat gold. do you know the date? i believe it's 1910. no, it's a wee bit before that; it's 1823. is it, by george? it is george, actually; it's george iv. it's not by george; it's by john linnett. john linnett, a very important box maker.
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have you ever had it valued? it was valued for our contents insurance about 20 years ago for something like £300, 400, as far as i can remember. you can add another nought to that; i would say it's about a £3,500 box. my goodness me. would you like a bit of snuff? i don't know a great deal about them except they've been in my family a long time. i understand that they were commissioned by someone in the family in the last century. they certainly weren't specially commissioned because i've seen this set before. in fact, there was a set sold not so long ago in london, similar, but i think perhaps a little bit better than these, actually. they've got all the history that you can take on the back view. you can see here it's hunt and roskill late storr and mortimer, and the pattern number. hunt and roskill actually started off with paul storr,
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and paul storr started the whole thing going. these companies gradually came into it afterwards. to me they're wonderful, lovely cast figures. they actually represent the street sellers of london. they are cast in silver. i'm a little bit disappointed about the bases; i would expect them to be a little bit heavier. they're gilded inside here to stop the salt from staining the silver, oxidising the silver. they are salt cellars? they are. they're wonderful; they'd grace any dining table. how long have you had them? since my mother died about 20 years ago. she and my father had them, and presumably his father had them before that. you've got them insured, no doubt? they are insured, yes. dare i ask how much? i had them valued years ago, and i think they're insured between £1,500 and 2,000. that's quite a lot of money, actually. i don't know how long ago your valuation was, but if i told you now you could probably add 400 percent to it,
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would you think that was a good investment? i would think it's a very good investment. i'd have to work out 400 percent of 1,500. the set i saw before -- i think it was grander than these -- sold for about £30,000. i would reckon this set is 'round about £20,000. good heavens! they're very nice. thank you for the good news. well, we've had a wonderful day and a memorable one too... that beautiful silk embroidered box, the quality of the silver and the porcelain. it has been a special programme, and i hope you enjoyed it too. next week we'll be looking at the treasures of a country house near bath and also using the opportunity to show you some of the other highlights of our series so far. until next week, from all of us here in marlborough, good-bye. captions by: midwest captioning des moines, iowa
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BBC World News
PBS July 29, 2011 5:00am-5:30am EDT

News/Business. International issues. (CC) (Stereo)

TOPIC FREQUENCY Marlborough 8, London 5, Spain 4, Edinburgh 3, England 3, John Clark 2, John Betjeman 2, Citron 2, Lotus 2, John Linnett 2, William Morris 2, Paul Storr 2, Roskill 2, Us 2, Dighton 2, Ireland 2, Joshua Dighton 2, Paris 2, Hilary Kay 1, Mortimer 1
Network PBS
Duration 00:30:00
Scanned in Annapolis, MD, USA
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Tuner Channel 78 (549 MHz)
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Audio Cocec ac3
Pixel width 704
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on 9/4/2011